Mary Smith – an update on a new book

Mary Smith was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in March 2016. She’s back now to tell us of a non-fiction book, on which she collaborated with photographer Allan Devlin, that’s just been published.

Castle Douglas Through Time
by Mary Smith and Allan Devlin
Published by Amberley Publishing
Genre: Non-fiction, local history, photography

The market town of Castle Douglas, beside Carlingwark Loch in the southern Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway, is relatively new, though the area has been inhabited from prehistoric times and the Romans had a military base close by. In the fourteenth century, Archibald the Grim, the 3rd Earl of Douglas, built Threave Castle nearby.

The town came into being thanks to fertiliser found in the loch and wealth merchant William Douglas, who laid out the present town in 1792. Though his dream of creating a cotton industry failed, Castle Douglas became a flourishing market town. The opening of the rail line to Dumfries in 1859 improved the town’s connections.

Castle Douglas from Dunmuir Hill. The imposing spire of St George’s Free Church dominates the old picture of the town. Houses have been built along the old railway line and a green space, Burghfield Park, has been created.

Though the railway closed in 1965, the A75 trunk road ensured the town’s survival as a major stopping point for travellers. Today, it is a major tourist destination, with many visitors using it as a base for exploring this beautiful part of Scotland.

All these changes are recorded in this unique and fascinating series of new and old photographs, making this book essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Castle Douglas.

                                                                   Douglas Arms Hotel, King Street. The picture shows the many changes in transport over the years. The hotel was owned for 83 years by the Payne family who offered to send a bus to meet all trains. Charabanc outings to the countryside were popular.

 

 

Background to writing the text: Amberley Publishing approached me about four years ago to ask if I was interested in working on a book, Dumfries Through Time. Of course, I said yes. I teamed up with photographer Allan Devlin who is a stunning landscape photographer and together we began to search for the 90 old images needed. After it was published, Amberley asked if we’d be interested in another book and so we began to work on Castle Douglas Through Time. We both search for old images, Allan takes the photos of the places as they today and I do the research, write the introduction and captions for each pair of images. I loved doing the research but writing the captions is extremely frustrating as there is an 80-word limit. I find it almost impossible to tell the history of some of the images in 80 words!

Where to purchase copies:
The paperback edition of Castle Douglas Through Time is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon CA

Mary and Allan at the book’s launch party.
Photo credit: Keith Kirk

Seumas Gallacher – update on a new Jack Calder novel

Seumas Gallacher has been an online friend and supporter of Reading Recommendations almost since the beginning of the blog. He’s a self-published author who definitely promotes his fellow authors and we all thank him heartily for that!

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Deadly Impasse – Jack Calder Crime Series #5
by Seumas Gallacher
Genre: Thriller/Suspense

The team at specialist security firm, International Security Partners (ISP), ex-SAS officers, Jack Calder and his mate Malky McGuire; Jack’s Asian wife, former Anti-Triad fighter, May-Ling; and former London Serious Crimes Squad commander, Donnie Mullen, take on international crime barons and people-traffickers.

An explosion in the vaults of a private bank in the calm backwater of Luxembourg links to the shores of Libya and the perils of migrants in the Mediterranean, before crossing continents to drug-running cartels in Central America.

Jack and his ISP squad pitch their lethal black ops skills to combat the callous greed and brutal actions of the syndicates as they move to break the deadly impasse.

*From Susan: I have read all five of the novels in this series and I highly recommend every one! But I just wanted to add something that came up after I read this latest novel. It’s not giving away too much to say that part of the story involves human trafficking along the northern coast of Africa with desperate migrants trying to make the arduous journey to the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Shortly after I finished reading this book, and in an eerie “art imitating life” situation, an article came to my attention and I shared it with Seumas.

Hundreds dead in shipwrecks off Libya

To which Seumas replied, “Did you read the poem I wrote about migrants?” He had published it on his blog in the post,
… Authors … getting ‘touchy-feely’ with yer writing is okay …

I’ve posted the poem here with Seumas Gallacher’s permission:

How many more migrants must we lose?

Hold on tight, don’t cry, my son,
This will not last too long.
Listen how your Mama sings
Your favourite nursing song.
This water will not harm us now
We’re nearly at the shore.
Be strong and brave, my boy
And we’ll be wet no more.

Yes, yes, that wave was huge, I know,
But hang on tight, be safe with me.
This darkness merely hides the land
We’re getting closer now, you’ll see.
The sea is wild but brings us fast.
This wind behind our back
Will blow us into land quite soon.
Watch us veer and tack.

No, please don’t cry, my lad,
I’m here to hold you tight
This angry sea won’t harm you
We’ll be safe ere blows the night
Talk to Papa, tell me things,
All the things you’d like to say.
Tell me how we’ll live our lives
On the shore we near this day.

Papa, truly, truly I am scared
These waves are far too tall.
And this darkness blinds my eyes.
I hate this, hate this all.
Papa, Papa, the boat is tipping over,
Papa, Papa, where’s your hand?
Papa, Papa, catch me please.
Papa, Papa……….. Papa?

Seumas Gallacher
October 16th, 2016

Where to purchase:
Amazon

Mary Smith

Mary Smith - web ready Mary Smith

What is your latest release and what genre is it? No More Mulberries – I would class it as contemporary women’s fiction but classifications are a bit of a moveable feast. The only time I was accepted for a BookBub promotion they changed the genre to literary fiction!

Quick description: Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves working at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married. When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. An old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where once she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers as to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

No More Mulberries - web ready

Brief biography:
I was born on the island of Islay, Scotland, home of some of the best whisky in the world, but moved to the mainland to Dumfries & Galloway when I was seven. Finished school and had the longest gap year in history which lasted about 30 years while I travelled a bit in Europe, lived in England where I worked in a factory, was a child-minder, and went on to work for Oxfam UK before a chance holiday in Pakistan led to work there. This was followed, three years later by a job in Afghanistan. I returned to Scotland when my son was five and when he started school I finally went to university.

I had started selling articles while working abroad and have continued as a journalist – sometimes freelance, sometimes staff – ever since. Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women (a title which seriously curtails tweets) is a memoir from my time in Afghanistan. I worked on what became No More Mulberries while doing a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

Links to buy Mary’s book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Mary’s promo links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blogs:
a blog about caring for my father who had dementia: My Dad’s a Goldfish
Take Five Authors
Novel Authors at Work
Amazon.com author page
Amazon.UK author page

What are you working on now?
I should be working on a follow up to No More Mulberries but have been side-tracked by two other projects. One is turning my blog about my father’s dementia journey into a book and the other is a local history project on the town where I live.

Mary’s reading recommendation:
I’ve just finished reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. The title drew me because “She was completely beside herself” was one of my mother’s sayings.

Seumas Gallacher – a few thoughts on returning to self-publishing

Seumas Gallacher has been a long-time pal of Reading Recommendations and has done a great deal to promote (and become friends with!) many of the other authors I promote, as well as with me, and of my writing! He has been featured in the group, Reading Recommendations Revisited, and has returned to tell us of his recent publishing experience and why he switched back to self-publishing, a story that is best told in the Kind Sir’s very own inimitable style.

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The Jack Calder Series
by Seumas Gallacher

… having recently returned to the ranks of the self-published author brigade, I’m delighted to report that the joy of being able once more to track my Amazon Kindle activity on a daily basis makes me a much happier scribbling bunny

… I traipsed into the realm of the ‘housed writers’ for a year, and although the good people at Crooked Cat Publishing, Stephanie and Laurence Patterson, are delightful folks, and easy to communicate with, I missed
the complete ‘control’ over my own literary destiny via the promotional push program that every author needs

… I know many authors are content to let that part of the ‘business of writing’ remain with a publisher, but I felt I needed to be closer again to the action, hence the parting of ways

… result? … my ability to monitor the movement on my sales downloads has been productive, and my titles are selling regularly, if modestly, but have certainly picked up pace from the last several months

… the most recent launch in August 2015, KILLER CITY, is doing well, but astonishingly to me, the earliest two titles, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY and VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK have each found a new lease of readership life

… strange ol’ business, huh!…

…the universal buying links are:

THE VIOLIN MANS LEGACY

VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK

SAVAGE PAYBACK

KILLER CITY

Seumas’s Website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

And here’s the man himself with a poetic tribute he made to me on the occasion of Reading Recommendations‘s 2nd Anniversary!

PS. On a personal note, I have had the great honour to read all of Seumas’s novels and enjoyed every one of them, so much so that his books were included in my annual Best Books Read list – two years in a row! smt

Christine Campbell

IMG_0653 Christine Campbell

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Here at the Gate – Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Quick description: Mhairi had worked hard to build herself a normal, stable life, but there had always been a dark fear inside her. No matter how happy she was, it was always there. It followed her about like a black bat, haunting her nights, hiding in a corner during her days, flapping out at odd moments, scaring the wits out of her.

It was as though she was standing outside a high-walled garden, barred from the secret of her past by the wrought-iron gate. She could see all the bushes and trees, the rhododendron and hydrangea. She could even smell the roses and the honeysuckle, but then the gate would swing shut and she was outside and it was dark.

Now her happy, settled life was being threatened and she knew she had to force through the darkness, and open the gate.

She needed to remember what she had spent a lifetime forgetting.

FINAL Front Cover

Brief biography:
Hi! I’m Christine Campbell and I’m a baby-boomer, a late bloomer, and a writer.

There! I stood in the middle of the circle and owned up. I am a writer: a novelist, in particular. I write contemporary women’s fiction: strongly character-based, relationship novels . . . with a smidgen of romance and a generous dusting of mystery and detection.

I have learned a lot about my craft since that wonderful night when I held my first completed, printed manuscript novel in my arms. My first book-baby. It was many years before I had the confidence to let it go off and make its way in the world, not having it published until 2008.

I have now completed seven novels, four of them published so far, with a fifth almost ready to leave home and see the big wide world and, even more importantly, to be seen by it. It’s so exciting when your book-babies grow up and leave home. As mother of five grown-up, married children and ten grandchildren, I know a lot about babies growing up and leaving home!

Links to buy Christine’s book:
Amazon

Christine’s promo links:
Blog
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter
YouTube
Amazon Author Page

What are you working on now?
The novel that is with the publisher right now, and will be released soon, is the first of a series, I think of three, but, if my readers enjoy them, who knows how many? The series is called The Reluctant Detective, and this first book in the series is called Searching for Summer. The series is so named because the main protagonist, Mirabelle Milligan, never intended to turn detective, but, when her teenage daughter disappears, Mirabelle gives up everything to search for her, following clues and hunches wherever they may lead. In Searching for Summer, most of the action takes place in and around Edinburgh, but in the second and third books, it moves further North in Scotland, and further West respectively.

Christine’s reading recommendation:
I am a great Anita Shreve fan, and one of my favourite Anita Shreve novels is The Pilot’s Wife, which I read fairly recently.

Janet O’Kane

avatar4Janet O’Kane

What is your latest release and what genre is it? No Stranger to Death is a mystery set in Scotland.

Quick description: Recently-widowed family doctor Zoe Moreland moves from an English city to a village in the Scottish Borders, hoping to make a fresh start among strangers unaware of her past. However, following her discovery of a body in the remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire, she gets caught up in a murder investigation and becomes the killer’s target herself.

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Brief biography:
Janet lives in the Scottish Borders about 50 miles south of Edinburgh with her husband, two dogs, two cats and far too many chickens. Before turning to writing fulltime she had a varied career which included selling underpants to Roger Moore in Harrods department store. These days, when she’s not writing, she can be found restoring old buildings alongside her stonemason husband, and learning to tap dance.

Links to buy Janet’s book:
Amazon Worldwide – eBook and paperback

Janet’s promo links:
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest

What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing the sequel to No Stranger to Death. This book opens during the hottest summer Scotland has ever experienced, and Zoe Moreland is called out to a body which has been found on the banks of the River Tweed.

Janet’s reading recommendation:
I’ve just read Cry Baby by David Jackson. Although it’s the latest in a series of crime novels set in New York, you don’t need to have read the others to enjoy it. And it is absolutely stunning.

Kevin McLeod

KevinKevin McLeod

What is your latest release and what genre is it? The Viking’s Apprentice – Adventure story for children aged 8 and over

Quick description: Follows the summer holidays of friends Peter and George. They have an amazing adventure when they arrive at Peter’s Granddad’s house in the mysterious town of Campbell’s Cove.

Kev-2 KINDLE

Brief biography:
I was born and raised in Scotland. To be precise I was born in Hamilton in 1975. (A year my oldest daughter thinks is close to around the time Vikings invaded Britian; that’s how old her dad is.) Then when I was very young we moved to Dunblane where I spent most of my years until I was roughly 20. After some traveling around I have landed back in Hamilton with my wife Kathleen and our two amazing daughters. They do say you always go back to where it all started one day.

I have always loved writing and have written many short stories. One day I will publish these stories (re-written and tidied up of course) for everyone else to read. I knew in my heart that I wanted to write a novel and I had many ideas competing to be first out of the hat. (I have to wear a hat these days, I am bald and it gets cold in Scotland.) I did write a book, as yet untitled, but chose not to release it after I had the idea for The Viking’s Apprentice. This new idea grabbed me and I began writing. I was inspired by my daughters and especially my oldest who loves to read. I wanted to write a story they could read and enjoy sooner rather than later. A story aimed at younger readers, but that could be enjoyed by everyone.

Two years of hard work, re-writes, edits and learning about the industry came to fruition when The Viking’s Apprentice was released on Amazon on March 28th 2013 and has achieved number 1 in it’s genre in America and the UK on Amazon. Book 2, The Master’s Revenge, was released in September 2013 and also reached number 1.

Links to buy Kevin’s book:
This link takes you to my website and lists every site you can buy the books from.

Kevin’s promo links:
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

What are you working on now?
I’m working on the third book in the series which has a working title of Journey to the Other Side.

Kevin’s reading recommendation:
Shutter Island by Dennis LeHane or The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. Both very different, but both excellent.